New London Main Street marks successes, looks to next year

New London - Members of the New London Main Street Organization met for its 15th annual meeting Thursday at The Commoner, a restaurant that opened earlier this year on Bank Street.

A large crowd turned out to honor awardees, announce new board members and discuss changes and the coming year.

While it was an impressive year for the organization, with its most visible accomplishment the ice skating rink on the Parade Plaza this winter, Main Street faces a cut in the city's proposed 2012-13 budget.

New London contributed about $80,000 to Main Street this year but has cut that contribution to about $35,000 in next year's proposed budget.

In her remarks to the group Thursday, Executive Director Penny Parsekian said the "shifting sands" of the budget process have yet to settle. But, she said, the group's board of directors has "met a million times" to discuss different scenarios for the next year depending on funding levels.

The best-case scenario, Parsekian said, would be to allow the group to keep two full-time employees - down from three - and two part-timers. Parsekian outlined the group's plans to "continue to build on the successful programs we have" and develop new partnerships. Parsekian outlined six different categories for those plans, from promoting the city as a "safe, family-friendly place" to community outreach with things like e-newsletters.

Kate Wick, vice president of the nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization, reviewed the group's 10 biggest accomplishments of the past year. The biggest success, she said, was the synthetic ice rink, which drew more than 11,000 skaters over the winter months.

Also announced were successes in:

• A diversified, and increased, Web presence, from its own website to its use of a variety of social media sites.

• Increased attendance at festivals like the spring and fall food strolls, Tugs & Sails and Celebration of Lights & Song around the World.

• The Big Picture on The Parade Plaza, which drew 438 people.

• The city ambassador program, which included 16 volunteers who worked during large city events and provided helpful assistance, such as walking people to their cars, handing out maps and guides and answering questions.

• Installing 60 light pole banners to celebrate OpSail 2012.

s.goldstein@theday.com

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